08 Nov

Bonito del norte with onions (Bonito encebollado)


Bonito is a fish closely related to tuna that can be found in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.  When Spaniards talk about bonito though, they are usually referring to bonito del norte, which we Americans call albacore tuna.  If you refer to bonito del norte as tuna here though, someone is sure to correct you. Bonito del norte is light in color and it turns white after cooking. According to my fish monger, it also has more fat than other tunas, making it better for this stew-like dish where the fish will get more heat.

This dish is a great way to serve fish to your non-fish loving friends and family.  The bonito is mild flavored and has a meaty texture and the caramelized onions dominate the dish. Who doesn’t like caramelized onions anyway?

Bonito del norte with onions (Bonito encebollado)
Cuisine: Spanish
  • ½ pound Almacore tuna (you can substitute other kinds of tuna)
  • 2 large onions
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ cup white wine
  • salt
  1. Slice the onions finely and sauté in the olive oil with the bay leaf for about 20 minutes. You want the onions to start to caramelize.
  2. While thats going, cut the tuna into largish chunks, maybe an inch or inch and a half in size.
  3. When the onions are ready, add the wine and bring it to a simmer.
  4. Add the tuna and cover. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes, and serve.


02 Sep

Clams with Cardoon (Almejas con Cardo)

clams with cardoon

clams with cardoon

I had never heard of cardoons before moving to Spain. They’re native to the Mediterranean  region and you can find them fresh in the markets during the summer and in jars all year around. I prepared them once from fresh stems purchased at the mercado central of Salamanca but never again. They’re prickly things with tough fibers that need to be removed before you eat them. Since then I’ve just bought them in jars.  They’re probably going to be hard to find in the USA, but you may be able to find them in farmer’s markets around this time of year.

If you find them, buy them and go to the trouble of preparing them and try this recipe.   Here’s what you’ll need to do to prepare them: Use a vegetable peeler or a knife (a peeler worked better for me) to remove the thorns and leaves from the stems. Then, use either a knife or the peeler to remove the tough fibers on the outside of the stem. Cut the stems into 1 – 2 inch pieces adding the pieces to a bowl of water with some lemon juice in it to prevent them from browning. Now, get a big pot of salted water boiling on the stove, drain the cardoon and add it to the pot. Boil them until they’re tender.  Now you’re ready to make almejas on cardo.

Clams with Cardoon
Cuisine: Spanish
Serves: 2
  • 1 pound small clams (about 12 little neck clams)
  • 1 24 oz jar of cardoon
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 cup fish, chicken or vegetable broth
  • olive oil
  • salt
  1. Chop the onion and mince the garlic.
  2. Saute the onion for a minute in a little olive oil, then add the garlic.
  3. Drain the cardoon and add it to the pan. Stir occasionally until the cardoon is heated through.
  4. Add the wine, bring it to a boil, and let the liquid reduce by about half over high heat.
  5. Add the broth and bring it to a boil again. Then, reduce the heat to a simmer.
  6. Add the clams. In a few minutes they should open. Discard any that don't open.
  7. Ready to serve!


15 Feb

Cauliflower and Saffron Menestra


A menestra is a type of stew that’s made with vegetables, similar to the Italian minestrone. My version here was my attempt to make something similar to a Spanish paella, using grated cauliflower instead of rice but it came out nothing like a real paella, so I call my invention a menestra instead.

Cauliflower and Saffron Menestra
Serves: 4
  • ½ head cauliflower
  • 1 zucchini
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 5 shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 leek
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 pinch of thyme
  • 1 pinch of saffron
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup of vegetable broth
  1. Grate the cauliflower with a cheese grater or pass it though a food processor. You'll want it about the same consistency as rice.
  2. Chop the veggies into a fine dice and mince the garlic.
  3. Sauté the garlic for a minute in the olive oil, then add all the veggies except the cauliflower. Sauté for a few minutes then add the spices. Add the cauliflower and broth.
  4. Bring the broth to a boil and let it simmer for about ten to fifteen minutes. You can cover the pot if you want it more saucy, or leave the top off and let the broth cook down, like I did in the photo.